Tobacco smoke exposure in pulmonary arterial and thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension

Respiration. 2014;88(1):38-45. doi: 10.1159/000359972. Epub 2014 May 15.


Background: Animal studies and data from a single-center study suggest that tobacco smoke exposure may be a risk factor for precapillary pulmonary hypertension (PH).

Objective: We aimed to survey tobacco smoke exposure in a large PH collective and to compare it with epidemiological data from healthy subjects.

Methods: This is an international, multicenter, case-control study including patients with pulmonary arterial and chronic thromboembolic PH. All patients were asked specific questions about tobacco smoke exposure. Healthy controls were retrieved from the Swiss Health Survey (n = 18,747).

Results: Overall (n = 472), 49% of PH patients were smokers and there was a clear sex difference (women 37%, men 71%). Significantly more PH men were smokers compared with healthy controls, whereas less PH women were ever active smokers. However, 50% of the non-smoking PH women were exposed to secondhand smoke, leading to a significantly higher number of tobacco smoke-exposed individuals compared to healthy controls. PH smokers were significantly younger compared to those not exposed.

Conclusion: Active and environmental tobacco smoke exposure is common in PH. The higher prevalence of male PH smokers, the higher exposure to environmental tobacco smoke in PH women compared to healthy controls and the lower age at PH diagnosis in smokers may indicate a pathogenic role of tobacco smoke exposure in PH.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Austria / epidemiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / epidemiology
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / etiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Embolism / complications*
  • Pulmonary Embolism / epidemiology
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects*


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution